Local governments dealing with sliding sales tax revenues

Jul 27, 2015

Across New York State sales tax collections are lagging, part of a long-term trend threatening one of the largest taxes collected on the state and local levels.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw
Credit WBFO News file photo

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says local sales tax growth is continuing to slide. In the first six months of this year, collections for local governments were up 1.6 percent, from a 3 percent rise last year and an average above 4 percent in the 15 years before that.

In some cases like Niagara County, collections were actually down. In Erie County collections were up just over 2 percent.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw has long pointed out that is less than the current budget anticipates.
"It is our largest source of revenue, not property tax, sales tax, upwards of $400 million," Mychaliw said.

"It is very significant and a huge part of our budget. That's why we keep an eye on it every single month and offer reports to the Legislature, county executive, cities, towns and school districts."

Mychajliw says he was recently contacted by a school district looking for projections. He says an M&T Bank economist told his office a growth in high salary jobs is bringing in enough money to balance against sliding Canadian shopping because of the declining Canadian dollar.

No one from the Poloncarz administration responded to questions about the data.